Glad that the awful treacly paint finish is completed we moved on to the first coat of colour; having quickly and very loosely marked out where the opening to the sky will be, we painted the cream surround first.
In age-old fashion, I drew out my designs onto sheets of paper taped together, some are 4mx3m.
I then cut the sheets up into 1m squares to make them more manageable, carefully marking and numbering where they meet, rather like a dress pattern.
Then, laying it on a slab or styrofoam, we pierced the paper along the design using the point of a pair of compasses, literally making dotted lines. I haven’t a picture of the swirls being prepped but here’s an example of the owl being prepared for pouncing, with the flogger next to the compasses.
We flipped the paper over and sanded the holes flat. Now we could tape the designs to the ceiling and “pounce” charcoal through the holes, I used alternately a nice thick lump of barbecue charcoal and coloured chalk, in the old days they would have used a muslin bag filled with powdered charcoal. (Incidentally I often use barbecue charcoal for drawing, it’s a lot cheaper than the stuff you buy in art shops and has a pleasingly rustic feel !)
After taking down the paper I flogged the ceiling lightly with my home-made “flogger”: kitchen roll wound round a bamboo stick, this gently blows the excess charcoal away leaving the faint design.
Lastly I mark the design out with watercolour pencil ready for painting. I finally work my way round the ceiling painting into the design with various colours.The idea is to keep the ceiling airy and light, also, it has to look comfortably aged and lived in, so I’ve washed back certain areas to try and retain that feel; this is done as randomly as I can, always keeping an eye out for any patterns forming; it’s so easy to do if you lose concentration, you are forever fighting the brain against it’s natural inclination to repeat actions rhythmically.
Next, by letting the white primer show through, I painted in the sky with diluted blues and whites.
I roughly cut out many and various birds from scrap paper and positioned them by sticking them temporarily with masking tape, again fighting the pattern-maker in my brain, so now, hopefully, they look random and naturally dispersed. Next I drew them in detail directly in place with caran d’ache watercolour pencils, these I then ‘fixed’ by dabbing with acrylic varnish, so the outlines stayed whilst I painted in more detail.
All this is carried out under the watchful eye of old faithful:
and outside the workplace: the woodland has a glorious abundance of different greens
and these stumpy little vines are in their first stages for the next wine harvest, so neatly pruned, each with it’s 2 leading shoots tied into position.